Sales of 4K Ultra HDTVs are now entering the mainstream around the world, with estimated global shipments surpassing 100 million units for full year 2018, according to a market tracker update just released by U.K.-based market research firm Futuresource Consulting.

The analytics firm said shipments and sales for 4K Ultra HDTVs continue to push higher in the critical fourth-quarter selling period, as average retail prices reach parity with older 1080p HDTV sets.

“This year, we’re expecting annual 4K UHD TV shipments to power past 100 million units,” wrote Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource in a recent blog on the latest market tracking study, “and the market will continue to grow with double-digit CAGR throughout our forecasting period to 2022.

“What’s more, high dynamic range – HDR – is beginning to make its presence felt and will be included in over half of all 4K UHD TVs sold worldwide in 2018, though consumer understanding remains limited,” he continued.

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As for the popularity of 4K Ultra HDTVs by regions around the world, Futuresource said the Asia Pacific sector is the leading market by sales volume. This includes the huge population of China, which is the largest 4K Ultra HD country in the world, and has been for several years.

Locally, the North American sector is also experiencing a growth trend in 4K UHD, as promotional prices on many models resumes their downward trajectory, aided by expanding supplies of LCD panels. Helping matters is the continued popularity of larger-screen sizes (55-inches and above), which match the larger-than-average homes in the region, Futuresource said.

In Europe, the research firm said 4K TV growth rates are in line with its expectations for a 30% spike in unit volume this year.

In addition to 4K Ultra HD TV sales, Futuresource is reporting that the global 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player market “continues to swell, with this year’s shipments on track to almost double the installed base of standalone players.”

Streaming media adapters that are compatible with 4K UHD streams are also seeing growth, Futuresource observed. The firm said unit shipments in the 4K category will rise more than 85% year over year in 2018, “accounting for nearly half” of all shipments of media streamer options.

Game consoles, with 4K UHD streaming capability, are also performing well, Futurersource said, and have significantly increased the installed base of UHD Blu-ray capable homes. This has been bolstered by consumers updating consoles and taking advantage of 4K UHD upgrades available for both the PlayStation and Xbox.

As for the availability of native 4K Ultra HD content, Futuresource said Subscription Video on Demand services rate as the top distribution source for Ultra HD viewing in the home.

“When it comes to the content, SVoD remains the primary gateway for consumers to get their UHD fix,” says Veale. “Netflix is the key service driving UHD SVoD spend. Depending on the country, around 20 percent to 30 percent of subscribers have opted for the UHD premium tier.”

Meanwhile, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs continue to progress ahead of the expectations of many, with global consumer spend on track to reach $360 million this year, Veale said.

“UHD Blu-ray has held onto its price premium and, as a result, consumer spend continues to outperform digital sell-through of UHD, despite the volumes being almost identical,” he explained.

As for 4K Ultra HD via broadcast, Veale said, “Broadcast UHD has also received a welcome boost in 2018, with February’s Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup accelerating many broadcasters’ plans to introduce 4K UHD coverage, making high quality streams available. However, for wider uptake, a reduction in the cost to deliver UHD and HD broadcasts simultaneously is needed. IP delivery is expected to be key to this, at least in the short to medium term.”


By Greg Tarr


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